Baby It’s Cold Outside: Isn’t it Too Cold to Live in Vermont?

Roberts WinterBundle up! It’s that time of the year again. Many people move to Vermont every year for our quality of life. We are fortunate to live here, in Northern New England, as our weather and seasons are perpetually changing. If you have lived here for a while then you are familiar with an old New England adage, “If you don’t like the weather then wait a minute and it will change.”

After an unseasonably warm fall (we didn’t take our window unit air conditioner out until November 3rd) we are now experiencing cold temperatures. One question that newcomers to Vermont ask is “How do you live here? It’s so cold!”

Over the years, Realtors, in particular, have adapted to the cold weather in Vermont as we spend a good deal of time getting in and out of our vehicles and running in and out of houses in all weather. If you follow my blog you will remember the family from Connecticut that drove here in a blizzard after Christmas one year as they were going to move to Vermont for a change of lifestyle. We looked at vacant houses that hadn’t had their driveways plowed often tromping through three feet of snow.

Here are our 5 tips for getting through our coldest months:

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p: Darn Tough

Throw out all of your socks. Yes, that’s right. When you wear regular, everyday socks your feet experience sweating and cooling throughout the day, not the best thing in the winter. We recommend Darn Tough socks, made in Vermont, lifetime guarantee. Wear wool socks.

Layer the “right way.” Of course everyone knows you need layers. Again, your best “base layer” should be wool. Focus on your “core” with an insulated vest and invest in a warm scarf that matches all of your outerwear. Be ready to pull off the layers when you get inside a store, restaurant, movie theater. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than being too warm.

Invest in seat heaters for your vehicle. In Vermont this is not a luxury item. If your car does not have them we recommend having them installed with a local auto accessory shop. While you’re there you might as well get a remote car starter. There is nothing more jolting than getting into a cold car. While “warming up” your vehicle may not be recommended by others, trust us on this one.

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p: crystalinmarie.com

Wear a hat. You can see this for yourself. On your morning commute look around at the other drivers. Real Vermonters wear hats, winter hats. I have resisted this for years (pure vanity, afraid of “hat head/hair”) but now it is a necessity. Once it’s on you won’t want to take it off.

Electric blankets and throws really work. Many of us live in older homes that were built prior to the energy efficiency days. There is nothing better than sitting on your couch after a long day and putting a heated throw on your lap.

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Hurricane Season in Vermont?

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P: Mashable

This year, as Texas and Florida recover from Harvey and Irma, respectively, we are reminded how the weather effects the real estate industry. Yes, occasionally there is a rogue hurricane that whips through Vermont and causes flooding havoc like Hurricane Irene in 2011. But, for the most part, Vermont’s weather tends to be best known for cool autumn evenings and long, cold winters.

If you’ve lived in New England you know the saying, “If you don’t like the weather wait a minute and it will change.” Now, more than ever this seems to be the case. On the heels of a few weeks of cool, fall weather early in September many of us removed our window air conditioner units. Now, since the air conditioners are safely tucked away until next season, we are experiencing high humidity and summer-like temperatures that reach 80+ degrees during the day. It’s tough to think about mums and pumpkins when your annuals are still blazing with color.

What does this mean for Vermont real estate? It means that our local market is sensitive to changes in the weather. When it’s hot and humid few people find it appealing to look at houses. When it’s raining and snowing buyers like to look on-line rather than “in person.”

Roberts FallBut, does the real estate market slow down in the fall? How about winter? Years ago, real estate was more of a “seasonal” business, and, in some parts of the country it still is. Real estate market statistics are useless unless you see a “seasonally adjusted” number along with the monthly charts.

On the Weaver Team we have experienced the ups and downs of the years and the seasons, though none of our “trends” seem to hold from one year to the next. On one year we can have a record breaking December and the next year, not so much. A “January thaw” can jump start the next year’s sales. Due to the unpredictable nature of the weather and the market, it seems like real estate is turning into a year-round business, no longer dependent on the infamous “spring market.”

Many of our sellers decide to keep their houses listed and on the market through the holidays and winter months as the competition tends to drop off. We have sold houses right after major Nor’easter storms. You never know when a family will make a decision to make their home here, Home Sweet Vermont.

Local Spotlight: Burlington

P: Vermont Photo Mag

P: Vermont Photo Mag

Whenever you tell someone you live in Vermont the first question you usually get is, “Oh, are you near Burlington?” Burlington has got to be the most well-known city in the state, which is no wonder since it is also the largest.

Situated on the eastern shoreline of Lake Champlain, Burlington offers a picturesque setting for picnics in Waterfront Park, scenic cruises on the Spirit of Ethan Allen and seasonal lakefront dining at Splash or Breakwater Cafe and Grill. Head over to North Beach (you can take the bike path!) for some fun in the sun – rent a kayak or stand-up paddle board and get out on the lake.

P: urbanscale.com

P: urbanscale.com

After spending time on the lakefront, make your way up to the Church Street Marketplace to do a little shopping. Along the brick-lined street you will find more than 100 shops with everything from high-end fashions and jewelry to VT made crafts and arts. Some of our favorites:

  • Frog Hollow – features the work of local VT artists including paintings, jewelry, pottery and sculptures
  • Lake Champlain Chocolates – delicious handcrafted chocolates, try the fudge or their hot chocolate
  • Outdoor Gear Exchange – find all the gear you could possibly need for any VT outdoor adventure
  • Apple Mountain – all of the Vermont products you’re looking for: maple syrup and candy, specialty foods, Vermont tees and hoodies and souvenirs

All of that walking and shopping will really work up an appetite, and there are plenty of restaurants to choose from downtown. A few not to miss:

  • Leunig’s –  a piece of Paris in downtown Burlington, a great spot for people-watching when you can dine al fresco
  • Vermont Pub & Brewery – VT’s oldest craft brewery with awesome beers and pub style food
  • Penny Cluse Cafe – awesome breakfast, make sure you get in early to grab a seat
  • Skinny Pancake – yummy savory or sweet crepes, try the Lovemaker with Nutella, strawberries and whipped cream
P: thefreegeorge.com

P: thefreegeorge.com

There are also some great options for entertainment – catch some live music at Nectar’s and grab a plate of their famous late night gravy fries. The Flynn hosts a number of live performances including plays, operas, ballets and comedians. ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center features permanent and traveling exhibits, with lots of hands-on activities for the kids.

And if that’s not enough, there are lots of local events to check out throughout the year – Discover Jazz Festival, Vermont Brewer’s Festival, South End Art Hop, and Magic Hat Mardi Gras just to name a few. Also not to be missed – the Burlington Farmers’ Market is held outdoors in City Hall Park during the warmer months and is a great spot to find local foods, treats and locally made crafts.

With so much to see and experience, it’s no surprise that Burlington consistently lands in the top places to live!